About 500 people marched through Lincoln streets Saturday as part of Occupy Lincoln, which protestors said was a way to stand up against corporate greed and show solidarity with those participating in other demonstrations in cities worldwide.

The march, which at times stretched several blocks from beginning to end, started near the Capitol, moved through downtown, then looped back toward the governor's mansion. Protestors then stood near the north side of the Capitol and held a general assembly to discuss further actions.

Lincoln was one of hundreds of cities worldwide to see significant Occupy Wall Street-style protests on Saturday. The protests in New York began on Sept. 17.

In Lincoln, demonstrators chanted, "We are the 99 percent," "The people united will not be defeated" and "This is what democracy looks like." Many held signs with sayings like "Human need not corporate greed" and "The 99 percent pay taxes."

The attendees' stories were as diverse as the signs they held, said Joe Delich.

"There are people all over the country and world protesting, but there are people here who are hurting," said Delich, whose sign said, "The people are too big to fail."

One purpose of Lincoln's event was to show support for other occupations in bigger cities. Omaha resident Ramona Johnson-Sanford said another reason for the protest was to raise awareness and get more people politically involved.

"We need to get people to vote, so we are the democracy we are supposed to be," Johnson-Sanford said. "How can this not be effective with this many people?"

Mary Ann Shiech started a Facebook page for the Occupy Lincoln movement about three weeks ago. On Saturday, she carried a sign that said "Screw us, and we multiply."

Since then, volunteers have worked together on planning for Saturday's event, but they stressed there is no one leader of the movement.

"We are all here about economic inequality, and we all want our voice heard," said Alex Svoboda, who served as an assembly moderator.

Justin Tolston, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln senior political science and international studies major, helped compile the guidelines for the march and occupation. Organizers received a parade permit for the event but only from the Capitol to the governor's mansion. Beyong that, volunteers asked demonstrators to walk politely on the sidewalk.

Another guideline asked demonstrators to ignore any counter-protesters. Marchers reported about a dozen counter-protestors near the governor's mansion.

There were no law enforcement issues reported, Lincoln Police Capt. Michon Morrow said.

After the march, hundreds remained for the general assembly. They discussed the logistics of the occupation of Centennial Mall, where about 20 people said they planned to camp. Some attendees brought food, water and books for those planning on spending the night.

Roberta Cordato suggested occupying other parts of Lincoln. The Lincoln resident said she used to make $80,000. Now she makes $40,000.

"We live sub-par, and that's not right," she said. "If I get sick, my family is two steps away from being on the street."

Echoing the actions in New York and around the world, Lincoln protestors said they have plans to make their voices heard.

"People in Nebraska have just as much stake and interest in this as those in New York," Svoboda said. "This is a movement of people whose voices haven't been heard. And now we're all finding each other."

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Reach Paige Cornwell at 402-473-7126 or pcornwell@journalstar.com.


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